BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A CONSUMER rights’ watchdog has launched a campaign against high mobile data costs, after recent reports showed that Zimbabwe had some of the most expensive data tariffs on the continent.
This follows a move by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information and Communication Technology to institute an inquiry into high data fees charged by telecommunication service providers.
The National Consumer Rights Association (Nacora) said it plans to petition Parliament and the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) to intervene to promote “data trade justice and fairness”.
“Let us not forget that this low cost data campaign is about justice and fairness. We have a lot of weapons we will deploy against this theft and profiteering.
We will do media campaigns, public meetings, engage Potraz, government and service providers like Econet, Netone, Telecel, Africom, among others,” Nacora advocacy and campaigns adviser, Effie Ncube told Southern Eye.
“There cannot be any justification, whatsoever, why any service provider to maintain these exorbitant prices for data.”
The telecommunications regulatory body has in some instances forced service providers to reduce local mobile data and internet charges.
Ncube accused the country’s telecommunications service providers of robbing poor Zimbabweans of their hard-earned money by charging exorbitant prices for data, with “data bundles expiring before use”.
“It is unfair trade and a bad business practice. Data drives economic activity and is critical to the sustenance for security and livelihoods of poor families throughout the country. There can be no justification, whatsoever, why any service provider can resist unused data to roll over and be transferable like airtime.
“Default out-of-bundle browsing is theft of the highest kind. Millions continue to lose their hard-earned money to this monster. Out-of-bundle browsing must only take place when activated by the consumer,” he added.
A research by Research ICT Africa and Pan African financial institution, EcoBank, recently established that Zimbabwe had the third most expensive mobile data in Africa.
Analysts have said reasons contributing to the country’s expensive data have largely been attributed to monopoly.